Communication outages over the last 24 hours at the Victoria Marine Communication and Traffic Services (MCTS) centre underscores the threat to safety posed by federal coast guard cuts, says the union representing coast guard communication officers.
During outages, coast guard officers cannot respond to distress calls or provide ship traffic advisories. The Victoria base is now responsible for most of the inside passage’s radio traffic after the Vancouver communication base was closed on May 6, 2015.
“The Harper government is cutting corners with marine safety,” said Joie Warnock, Unifor’s Western Director. “Our coast guard is overburdened and that should worry anyone travelling or working on the water.”
The Harper government’s cuts to the marine safety network have impacted services on both coasts. Four bases have been closed so far this year in Saint John, St. John’s, Ucluelet, and Vancouver. Four more monitoring stations are scheduled to close in 2015 in Thunder Bay, Rivière au Renard, St. Anthony, and Comox.
“The Harper government is cutting back on services that protect people and wildlife on our coast,” said Warnock. “The coast guard is essential to the safety of tens of thousands of British Columbians, but Stephen Harper doesn’t understand that.”
Restoring funding to the coast guard would cost $5.5 million per year, or 0.25% of the cost to the government of the income-splitting program introduced in 2015.